Friday, January 25, 2008

Unwanted Attention

Where do you draw the line to conclude when someone is just trying to be nice or just being creepy?

Either way, many times it's unwanted attention from unwanted sources - I'm in my 20s and it's ALWAYS men who are least 50 years old - and what if you can't escape those sources?

I've been publically harrassed several times by older men - even had one run into me and touch my chest "by accident" on the subway platform. My favorite though is when a bunch of Latino guys packed into Hondas with broken mufflers will slow down to call out to me or whistle and follow me slowly as I'm walking down the sidewalk, even if it means they're back-up traffic.

But there are few men that I can't escape because they see me on a regular basis. One is a janitor at ABC who is at least 65 and has some sort of mental problem that resembles Down Syndrome (I'm not being mean, I recognize the signs). When he sees me in the hallway, he will continuously tell me, "good morning, you look so nice, it's nice to see you," and then he'll follow me back to my desk or even to the women's bathroom door. Once, he tried to stop my elevator as I was leaving to tell me goodbye. Recently, he's gotten into the habit of poking his head into the studio where I work constantly throughout the day and then leaves quickly. When that happens I just stare at my computer and pretend to be busy. He seems harmless but it definitely make me feel uneasy.

Another is this guy at my parking garage. He's definitely the parking attendant in charge - because he's always barking orders at the others - and he's always nice to me, telling me to stay warm, to have a nice day, to buy a monthly pass, but he will yell at his other attendants if they go to get my car and not let him do it. He always insists on getting my car.

This morning, I had to come into work early so I parked in a different garage, a 24-hour one, instead of his which wasn't open yet. While I was leaving the garage, he came around the corner to talk to one of the guys at the 24-hour garage, saw me, and continued to shout down the block, "hey! hey! hello! hey!" I turned around, thinking they were yelling about something wrong with my car, saw it was him, waved, and ran away to work. I certainly don't want to piss off the man who parks my car...might cut the break line or something...but I still got a little uncomfortable.

Even at lunch I get no peace. There's a small area with lunch tables at ABC and I usually take lunch there to eat and make phone calls. If I'm not on the phone - which I wasn't today - it never fails that some member of the older male ABC staff will come up to my table and say, "is that lunch good? Got yourself a sandwich there huh? Whatcha reading there?" Gross. Can I just have 20 minutes where I can eat my boring turkey sandwich and not be bothered?

I would eat at my desk, but then my boss would make me do work. I would even suffer out in the cold at the park a few blocks away, but I tried that once and got cat-called by every single guy sitting on a bench - AND I WAS ON THE PHONE!

Some would say I ask for it and only encourage them because I don't tell them off. I typically respond with "fine thanks" or ignore them completely and I stop making eye-contact. If I'm being cat-called though, I just flat out pretend they're not there.

But seriously, enough is enough. How do I make it stop?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My cold-hearted mornings

I begin my commute every morning counting parking tickets.

It starts when I walk out of my apartment building on UMD's campus, around the corner and down the hill to the parking garage. On the way, I pass two other apartment buildings like mine that sit on a small road crudely made for the garbage trucks to drive up to get to the dumpsters.

Off of this road sits UMD parking lot U7. It's a "faculty-only" lot but like most parking lots on campus, this one allows anyone to park there without a permit as long as it's not during the hours of 7 am-4 pm Monday-Friday.

I leave my apartment to take my walk every morning between 7:25 am and 7:35 am - depending on if I hit the snooze button or not - and without fail, every morning there are several cars flagged with small, yellow rectangular tickets neatly tucked into their wipers.

I'm almost certain that DOTS - Department of Transportation Systems aka EVIL - has stationed a parking official to sit in this lot starting at 6:45 a.m. to catch poor, unsuspecting people not abiding by their very important permit laws. I can see him (or her) sitting in the white DOTS truck with a cigarette in between his teeth, anxiously waiting, muttering "come on, come on," hoping that he gets to stick it to those meddling kids. I can imagine an egg timer on the dashboard set to 7:00 am and with the sound of it's "ding," the DOTS employee laughs, rubs his hands together and leaps out, electronic ticketer thing under his arm and a whistling tune blowing from his cracked lips.

I assume this because the cars parked in the parking lot next to the parking garage at the end of this small road has the same parking restrictions, but I never see a single ticket on those cars at 7:30ish am.

This morning was especially laughable for me because today not even a tow truck escaped the wrath of DOTS. I had to stop to make sure, but indeed, the enormous tow truck had a small yellow flag flapping in the wind on it's wiper. Way to show 'em, boys.

I know I seem cold-hearted because it appears that I delight in other people's misery, but it's more of a relief to know that I am not the only one who silently has the urge to punch in the face of the next DOTS employee she sees.And I'm certainly no parking saint. I've gotten five parking tickets on campus - all for unloading groceries out of my car, and two of those incidents where from my boyfriend barrowing my parking pass - so I let myself smile at their persistence if nothing else every morning.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I can't believe I caved

For a long time, I was against bloggers and the whole blogging world. Even the word "blog" made me want to grind my teeth. One reason for this stems from many old-school print (not online, but print as in those newspaper things that used to get actual ink all over your hands) jouranlism professors telling me for years that bloggers are going to take away my job and ruin my journalism life.

How dramatic.

At the time when I was a freshman/sophomore in college, I thought their agruments were valid. It would make sense that if "regular" people started reporting the news themselves, why would there need to be an industry for it? Now that I'm a wise senior on my way to graduation, I say, "whatever, man." I'm sure they're all blogging about bloggers right now.

Another reason why I used to be "anti-blog" was because my freshman year roommate's jerk boyfriend used to say in a manner not unlike a British actor rejected by a Shakespeare play group, "I've been writing on my blog all day," "some other blog picked up my blog today," "bloggers are so much more right about stuff than journalists."

And so, I can't believe I caved.